Buzz Bulletin: How COVID-19 Is Affecting The Sports World

By: Whitney Carroll McKinnon
Posted: March 12, 2020

With the global outbreak of COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus) dominating headlines around the world, let’s spend this week looking at a few of the ways that the virus is affecting the sports landscape. You may have heard that the NBA season has been postponed until further notice, but that’s just the icing on the cake.

Here’s a rundown of some of the major sports disruptions caused by COVID-19.

What’s Cancelled

The New York City Half Marathon

The annual NYC Half Marathon, which was set to draw in approximately 25,000 participants this Sunday, has been canceled outright due to the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York state. At the time of publishing, 216 New York residents have tested positive for coronavirus; the powers that be are making efforts to keep that number as low as possible.

Ivy League Sports

Not all Ivy League schools have gone as far as Harvard when it comes to squashing the virus. However, they’ve chosen to shut down spring sports for the year, as well as the upcoming basketball Ivy League Tournament.

What’s Postponed

The NBA Season

The NBA season has been put on hold indefinitely after confirming that two players have tested positive for COVID-19. Utah’s Rudy Gobert was the first player to test positive, and the season was postponed almost immediately following the news. This morning, news broke that Donovan Mitchell, whose locker was located beside Gobert’s in the Jazz locker room, has tested positive as well.

Gobert’s diagnosis was revealed in a dramatic fashion. Just moments before tip-off, a Jazz trainer ran onto the court to break the news to officials that Gobert, one of the team’s most popular players, had tested positive for the virus. Spectators were asked to exit the arena after being assured that they were not in danger.

There is no timeline for an expected return at this point.

The MLS Season

Major League Soccer has been put on hold for 30 days while the country works to stop the spread of COVID-19. That may turn into a longer time period depending on the prognosis, but for now, there won’t be any matches until mid-April at the earliest.

All Sporting Events in Italy

With Italy in the throes of a full-fledged pandemic, the country has decided to postpone all sporting events for the time being. That includes all upcoming soccer matches as well as preparations for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which may be impacted itself if COVID-19 isn’t under control by then.

What’s Closed to Spectators

March Madness

This one hurts. The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments won’t be open to the public this year, meaning that March Madness will take place in a mostly vacant arena. No hype, no screaming fans…just essential personnel and a limited amount of immediate family members.

Update, 3/12 at 4:21PM: March Madness has been canceled for 2020. No details yet about whether the tournament will be held at a later date.

What’s Still Up in the Air

NHL Season

The NHL season remains unaffected by the virus, though experts are predicting that the league will likely opt to suspend the season. There’s a good chance we’ll know more about this by the end of the day, so stay tuned to our Twitter feed for breaking news.

Update, 3/12 at 4:17PM: The NHL has suspended the regular season.

MLB Opening Day

According to ESPN, Major League Baseball officials have scheduled a conference call to discuss whether the league will delay the start of the season. Some Opening Day logistics have already been affected and continue to be up in the air— Washington state has banned gatherings of over 250 people, while San Francisco and Oakland have banned gatherings of more than 1000 attendees.

Update, 3/12 at 2:30PM: The MLB has suspended the rest of spring training and will be postponing Opening Day indefinitely.

For anyone who may need a reminder about how to minimize the spread of COVID-19, here’s a handy graphic from the NBA:

For more thoughts and opinions from Whitney McKinnon, check out her author page.

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